FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - On his first chance to play Monday Morning Quarterback with his team, Adam Gase didn't hold anything back. His anger was evident. His words were harsh. And his finger was pointed directly at his players.
It was an unusual public display of day-after emotion, especially for anyone who lived the four years of Todd Bowles, a coach who rarely showed a public pulse. It was interpreted in some places as Gase rolling his Jets players under the proverbial bus and taking no blame for the Jets' opening-day disaster.
So, two days later, after seeing his team's reaction, did Gase have any regrets about what he said?
"I probably shouldn't have had a conference call after our (team) meeting was over," he joked. "I was a little upset."
Yes, he certainly was. But here's the thing about what Gase said on his conference call with reporters on Monday morning: Every last bit of it was true. Every player, every position group that was called out by the coach deserved to be called out after their disappointing performance.
And if they didn't like being called out publicly?
"I mean, anything that I ever say publicly, I've already said privately," Gase said. "I didn't think I was that bad. I thought I was nice."
Gase is actually right about that. He wasn't particularly nasty on his Monday morning conference call with the media, 24 hours after the Jets turned a 16-0 lead into a 17-16 loss. He didn't name names, even though plenty could be inferred from what he said about the cornerbacks and receivers in particular. He pointed out mistakes without directly humiliating or belittling the players who made them. For a player who really listened to be offended by his words, he'd have to be incredibly soft.
What made it so newsworthy, though, was simply the contrast to his predecessor's monotone, baritone, tone-deaf post-game reactions. The Jets lost 40 games during Bowles' four-year tenure and he never overreacted to anyone. In fact, most times it seemed like he barely reacted at all.
And sorry, but this matters: That passionless, robot-like approach never sat well with the media or fans. They're not stupid (generally). They know when things are going wrong. So what's wrong with a coach stating the obvious rather than spouting a mindless, meaningless cliché? Fans get emotionally crushed by every loss - especially one as crushing as when the one on Sunday. Why shouldn't a coach show a little bit of emotion too?
How could fans (and the media) not love that?
And as for the players, they'll often say they appreciate when a coach is honest. They also love when winning and losing means as much to their coach as it does to them. Sure, nobody likes to have their problems aired publicly. But again, too bad. You like the public praise, accept the public criticism.
Welcome to professional sports.
And if they're not tough enough to handle it, maybe the new Jets should find someone else who is.
Gase tried the say-little approach in his first stop as a head coach. He did his best not to rip into his players publicly, no matter how much he thought they deserved it. Much like with Bowles, that wasn't received well when fans and media could see all the problems with their own eyes.
"I never said anything about anybody in Miami," Gase, the former Dolphins coach, said. "I got criticized for that. I was too soft."
So far, he's having no such problem in New York, even though the reports of his bark on Monday were far worse than the actual bite. Despite the way his words were portrayed, he didn't leave himself completely out of the criticism. He even made that clear again on Wednesday morning when he publicly questioned some of his own play calls. All Gase did was say what everyone knew: The Jets stunk, some of their position groups stunk worse than others.
And he was really, really unhappy about that.
"We were frustrated," Gase said. "Everybody was. We lost a game. We watched the film. Mistakes were made. There were some things that I wish I would have done different. I voiced that part to those guys."
Did it hurt to hear? Probably. Will the players get over it? They better, otherwise 0-1 could turn into 0-2 or 0-6 before the season even really gets started. The good news is that from what Gase saw, and from what some players said in the locker room on Wednesday, they did get over it quickly. They understood that Gase was only saying what he felt was needed to be said.
"Those guys did a good job of trying to listen to what was being said," Gase said. "We have to fix things fast and those guys did a good job of embracing that. It's not easy, after a loss, to handle any kind of criticism. When you have to fix things after a win, it's a lot easier. You can say whatever you want, and nobody cares because you won. But after a loss, everything is magnified."
That's true. So if any player was really bothered by Gase's hot take, that's some good incentive. If they don't want to be publicly criticized by their coach, the solution is simple: